CRA permits electronic signatures

CRA has announced that it will accept electronic signatures as conforming to “the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act“.

I consider this an unusual announcement, because the ITA has no “signature requirements”. The ITA allows CRA to disclose information to a representative under subsection 241(5) and requires returns to be made in “prescribed form” under section 150 (among others); but any “signature requirement” as such, much less an in-person one, has always been a pure invention of CRA. Nevertheless it has treated the requirement for original signatures on client authorizations (outside what are supposed to be one-time-only oral authorizations) as blanket policy for some time, and it is good to see these relaxed.

The announcement applies to all signatures, not only those on T183 and T183CORP forms that authorize your tax preparer to file your return for you. But it does clarify that those are definitely included. We are treating all AUT-01 authorizations as valid if signed remotely, expect CRA to do the same, and are simply going to fax them to the Tax Centre for the duration of the policy. This also has the advantage of keeping potentially contaminated originals from passing between offices.

I recommend that taxpayers filing on paper, should still sign originals for submission to CRA. Don’t try to use some fancy signature escrow method.

I had been asked about TIS60 authorizations by others and determined that these also could be “signed electronically” and submitted.

Written by Craig Burley

Craig is a tax lawyer in private practice in Hamilton, Ontario. Call Craig at (905) 296-3378 to discuss issues that you think may need independent tax advice. In addition to tax, Craig writes and works publicly on a number of other issues related to law, justice, and public affairs.